What's It Like To Work For Google?
May 16, 2014

What’s It Like To Work For Google?

I have just watched The Internship with Vince Vaughn and Owen Wilson, who play two affable but dopey and aging men who somehow get a prestigious and much sought after internship at Google. It led me to do some research about what it is really like to work for the company that Forbes puts as the number one to be employed by.

The best the movie could come up with as to why two completely unsuitable dummies would get a position, which in real life sees 1500 people appointed from 40,000 applicants, was that someone at Google decided that taking on two completely unsuitable dummies counted as thinking outside the box. I know that thinking outside the box is what Google does, but that’s a bit too far outside the box, sort of like if someone said, “hey, how about trying to make as big a loss as possible this year, instead of a profit, crazy, right guys?!” Anyway, that’s fiction, but what is the reality?

For internship applicants, there is an immediate taste of the sort of high expectations the company has. Their off-the-wall, almost unanswerable (on the spot, anyway) interview questions got quite a lot of publicity and have since had a stop put to them, apparently. Questions such as “How much would you charge to clean all the windows in Seattle?” Or “How much do you think Google makes each day from Gmail ads?” These are followed by instant, over the phone requests to immediately come up with a concept for a commercial, design an evacuation plan for a major American city, and similarly nerve-jangling demands.

But if you do manage to negotiate the tough interview process, you will, even as an intern, begin to see why Google is so good to work for, according to Business Insider. The gents in the movie seemed only to benefit from the perks not directly related to the job, what one real life intern explains as “free food & refreshments, free gym membership, laundry, dancing lessons, etc.” There are also excursions such as paintballing, luxury boat trips and attending major sporting events. These are genuine, but the misery suffered in the movie, the bullying, backstabbing and egos flying around dangerously, are apparently not. The interns that were asked said that there was a positive atmosphere and people helped each other out and supported one another. They also said that there was openness and honesty from top to bottom in the company, and that they worked on interesting projects, not just running to get coffee for the real employees.

And what is life like for those real employees? It seems that if you love Google and want to devote your life to it, then pretty good. The ‘campus,’ as Google HQ is referred to, has such great eating, sleeping, leisure and socializing facilities, that one need never leave. There is apparently a big drinking culture, with some managers insisting on team drinks (sounds like Japan), and a general ‘work hard, play hard’ approach. It sounds very much like college, except for the ‘work hard’ part in some people’s cases, and is undoubtedly a fantastic job for a young person.

For family people, though, it is a little tougher. They are not pressured to stay at work after hours, but may be passed over when promotions roll around. They can nip off for salsa classes at 2pm, tremendous compared to most offices, but this means working later and spending less time at home with the family. Of course, spending too much time at work is a big problem for many people with families, and they don’t get free food and hammocks in their office.

What’s it like to work for Google? Pretty great, if your job is your life, but one shouldn’t expect to just clock in, go through the motions and keep themselves to themselves. Or, ironically, waste time messing around on Google all day, like most of us do.

Image Credit: Twentieth Century Fox

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John is a freelance writer from the UK, currently living in Japan and thoroughly enjoying their food and whiskey. His first novel, Three Little Boys, and his travel book, Following Football, are currently available on Amazon.com.

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